Skills Finland and its partners train the Finnish national team for the international WorldSkills, EuroSkills and Abilympics competitions. They also organise the annual national Taitaja, TaitajaPLUS and Taitaja9 competitions.
Team Finland participated in Euroskills 2016 which took place in Gothenburg. The team won a total of 12 medals, six of them gold, which gave them first place in the number of gold medals won.
EuroSkills is a vocational skills competition and is part of the WorldSkills organisation. Team Finland has been participating in the WorldSkills competitions since 1989, the EuroSkills since the very first competition in 2008, and the International Abilympics since 2007. In 2005, Skills Finland organised the WorldSkills Competition in Helsinki.
Skills Finland has developed a training system for people with excellence in skills. They educate skills trainers and carry out research, communications and publishing activities related to skills competitions. Skills Finland is supported by the education ministry, the Finnish National Board of Education, vocational institutions and the most important labour market and education organisations.
National and international skills competitions have contributed significantly to the attractiveness and visibility of VET. The national skills competition, Taitaja (participants are VET students 21 or younger), has been organised without break for 27 years. It is the largest vocational education event in Finland. Taitaja 2017 in Helsinki will gather together more than 500 participants competing in 44 different skills; around 80 000 visitors, exhibitors and other operators are anticipated. The annual Taitaja skills competition promotes vocational education, improves connections with entrepreneurs and companies, and increases awareness of the quality of vocational education and professional skills. It is also a platform for developing vocational education and international relations.
Taitaja9, for pupils in comprehensive school, has 3 500 participants annually. It helps to experience occupations and get to know vocational institutions providing possible future studies. The aim of the competition is to increase knowledge of fields where manual skills are required and of the process of applying for VET. There is also the TaitajaPLUS competition, meant for all upper secondary level students with an individual education plan.
In addition to the participants, an equal number of VET teachers and students are involved in organising the event. There are qualifying sessions around Finland during the school year, with audiences of tens of thousands. One of the principal aims is to increase local cooperation between comprehensive schools, vocational institutions and companies. The competition is a form of vocational guidance, supporting the pupils’ choice of career.